In a bid to gain more creative and financial control over its properties, L.A.’s Whamo Entertainment has decided to get into the production game, hooking up with some new partners and folding its library into a new distribution and production company called MarVista Entertainment.
Whamo principals Joseph Szew, Fernando Szew and Mar Gaya have teamed up with Michael Jacobs, former senior VP of worldwide sales for PorchLight Entertainment, and George Port, founder and former CEO of Anchor Bay Entertainment, to acquire and produce live-action features, TV movies and series. Initially, the company plans to acquire eight to 10 movies a year, producing three or four in the US$2.5 million to US$4 million range along with live-action kids series.
‘For a while now, we’ve wanted more of a say about what goes into the products that we license,’ says Fernando Szew. ‘A lot of projects that have been pitched to us do not have the right commercial elements, and they don’t go the whole way to involve broadcasters, who at the end of the day decide if a program will be aired.’
Szew adds that MarVista will use its existing relationships with broadcasters to leverage co-production deals, and he hopes that having an operating base in Spain will give the company an advantage when it comes to seeking out international partners. The Whamo library contains 3,000 hours of television and 40 animated feature films, including kids fare like A Wompkee Family Christmas (DEOS) and the Crawford’s Corner film series (Perennial Pictures).